Buyers' advice, Motoring News, vehicle technology

Dumping diesel! UK buyers sliding back to petrol

  • Huge turnaround as UK swings back to petrol
  • Environment now has back seat in car deals
  • Cost, performance and economy preferred

LONDON, England – A swing back from the popularity of economical diesel to petrol-fuelled vehicles in Britain is, according to a survey, showing a change of mood among buyers.

A survey by What Car? UK shows more than seven of 10 people would now be likely or very likely to choose petrol over diesel.

Engine performance and fuel consumption are rated as the two most important factors for car buyers so the shift from diesel to petrol is more about running costs than concerns about the environment – thanks to the diesel emissions scandal of 2015.


Through recent years diesel sales matched or exceeded those of petrol vehicles. In 2014 and 2015 diesel models had 50.1% and 48.5% market share respectively.

More than 84% of UK car-buyers surveyed were also worried about potential legislation changes affecting the future cost of owning a diesel car – referring to retail price, fuel duty and vehicle road tax (the last two much higher than in South Africa).

The research also showed hybrids and electric cars were even less tempting: only 12% to 32% of buyers considering diesel or petrol hybrid vehicles; more than 48% said they would be “very unlikely” to consider an electric car, backing up the fact buyers are less concerned about being green.


What Car? editor Steve Huntingford told The Corner in a media release: “There seems to be a dramatic shift in the petrol/diesel sales see-saw. Legislation changes in the 2000’s led to a diesel boom but the tide has turned since 2015’s revelations and the emergence of extremely efficient smaller engines.

“Buyers seem not to be overly concerned about environmental factors. Car-buying is usually determined by financial aspects; if a buyer fears a diesel crackdown and petrol engines are cheaper and almost as efficient, it’s easy to understand the changes.”

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